Lutherans meet political and faith leaders in mainly Catholic Slovenia

(Photo: LWF/ Heidi Martinussen)Bishops Ernisa and Bishop Filo from Slovenia presented with gift from Bishop Younan (center) at a reception in the Lutheran Church Ljubljana on November 20.

Leaders in the Lutheran World Federation have thanked the Slovenian government for safeguarding religious and cultural diversity in a nation that traces its establishment to the Reformation movement.

When Slovenia was part of communist Yugoslavia many people, however, described themselves as atheists, as it was said to be very convenient not to be religious.

The LWF's governing body held recent meeting meetings with the Slovenian President Borut Pahor and with Zoran Jankovič, the mayor of the capital, Ljubljana.

Led by it's the president of the LWF, Bishop Munib A. Younan, the Lutherans heard how the government supports the different religious bodies in the country, the Lutheran communion said in a statement.

Slovenian Christians traditions include Roman Catholics who are in the majority and also the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovenia.

The LWF member church hosted the November 12-14 meeting of LWF leaders, who in addition to talks with government officials met with representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox churches and with Muslim leaders.

Younan, who is also bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, underlined LWF's appreciation for the observance of October 31 - Reformation Day - as a national holiday in Slovenia.

"Today in our world, we are becoming more and more aware that none of us are independent, we are all interdependent. It is our role to speak more about how the values of faith can be implemented in a world that is secularized and broken.

"These values of peace, reconciliation and diversity are values we as religious leaders must have," Younan said, reflecting on the conversations with Slovenian secular leaders.

At the meeting with President Pahor, the head of state offered to set up a working group to enable both the government and the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovenia to explore ways of marking the 2017 Reformation anniversary.

Younan emphasized the LWF's commitment to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, highlighting the 50 years of dialogue with Catholics and more than 30 years with the Orthodox as important milestones.

He also noted a recent signing of an agreement between the LWF and Islamic Relief Worldwide.

The agreement with the IRW was to cooperate in humanitarian work as the first official cooperation between an international Christian and a global Islamic humanitarian organization.

During a reception hosted by the LWF in the Lutheran church in Ljubljana, the president of Slovenia's Catholic Bishops' Conference Bishop Andrej Glavan emphasized the need to continue working together as ecumenical partners.

The Orthodox Church representative Paroh Milan said, "I feel that we belong to one family because all of us come from one God and that is why I am sure that we not only can but also have to work together to build a society which offers the opportunity to believe together and to be a witness."

In Slovenia, the reformer Primož Truber is celebrated as the author of the first Slovene language printed book, and the founder of the Protestant Church of the Slovene Lands.

Dr Marko Kersevan, head of the Truber Institute noted that even though only one percent of Slovenians belong to the Lutheran church, the Lutheran tradition has had an impact in society.

"The language became a unifying force in order to constitute the Slovenian nation. The written language of Slovenia came into being through Reformation and with the spirit of Reformation through the Reformation movement," Kersevan said.

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